Home » NetNewsLedger – Why Gambling is Popular in Australia

NetNewsLedger – Why Gambling is Popular in Australia

Long before European settlement, Indigenous Australians were engaging in gambling games that were deeply ingrained in their cultural values and traditions. These early gambling practices played an important role in promoting unity within the community, contributing to the endearing interest in games of chance in Australian gambling culture today.

The popularity and appeal of gambling is not only about money but has shaped Australian society and is widely enjoyed as a form of entertainment. This article explores why gambling is a favorite pastime in Australia and the regulations Australia has in place to prevent problem gambling.

Accessibility and Availability

Gambling in Australia is highly accessible, with a wide variety of gambling activities available. This accessibility is closely tied to the country’s heritage, as gambling has been a significant part of Australian culture since its early days and has contributed to the popularity of gambling among locals.

Land-based and Online Casinos

Australia has an exceptionally high number of electronic gaming machines (EMGs), affectionately known as pokies, with roughly over two hundred thousand machines available nationwide. Pokies can be found in most clubs, pubs, hotels, and online casino platforms. According to Techopedia’s gambling editor, Matty Treuberg, pokies are slot machines, essential revenue sources for all Australian online casinos. Reputable and licensed online casinos, as compared by Techopedia’s experts, provide Australians with several bonuses and promotions and a wide range of slot titles with different themes, designs, and gameplay features.

Additionally, several licensed casinos operate throughout the country, providing access to a range of casino games like poker, blackjack, and more. The Crown Casino in Melbourne is the country’s largest casino complex, enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike. The Star in Sydney offers a loyalty program for regular guests who enjoy pokies, table games, and more.

Racetracks and Betting Shops

Horse and greyhound racing is an exceptionally popular gambling activity expected to grow by $4.6 billion in 2024. There are several racetracks and off-course betting shops in the country. Horse racing, in particular, is a significant and popular event deeply rooted in the country’s heritage and culture. It is a significant sport and entertainment activity that contributes significantly to the economy, attracting followers and fans.

The Melbourne Cup, a horse racing event dating back to 1861, has a rich and storied history. It is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious horse races. In 2023, at least 1.68 million Australians tuned in to watch live coverage of the event.

Ironically, the most prestigious greyhound racing events are the Melbourne Cup and Million Dollar Chase. The horse and greyhound racing events generate significant interest from fans and bettors alike, both around the country and across the globe.

Offshore Gambling Platforms

While the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 prohibits online casino and poker gambling at offshore sites, it allows provisions for online sports betting bingo, and lotteries by licensed operators. This has created a regulated online gambling market that is accessible to Australians.

Crypto Gambling

Crypto gambling has gained popularity in the country. The surge in popularity is due to the convenience of using digital assets, the anonymity offered, and the potential for higher returns on winnings. The regulatory oversight and legal restrictions of crypto gambling are evolving, with authorities working to adapt existing regulations to the unique characteristics of gambling with cryptocurrencies. While no laws ban crypto casinos, an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 could potentially see a ban on online gambling with credit cards and digital currencies.

Cultural Acceptance and Government Oversight

Gambling, including playing pokies, horse racing, and card games is deeply rooted in the culture and is considered a form of entertainment and socially acceptable in the country. Although gambling is widely embraced in society, perceptions towards it vary greatly among cultural and ethnic groups. There is a widespread belief that gambling is common and socially accepted, since it provides economic benefits to the country, which significantly contributes to its cultural acceptance.

However, some Australians recognize that the normalization of gambling can be harmful. Gambling in the country is regulated at both the federal and territory levels, with each jurisdiction having its own laws and regulations. The government; however, created mandatory Codes of Conduct as well as Codes of Practice that all gambling providers must adhere to. These regulations cover consumer protections, advertising restrictions, and measures to ensure responsible gambling.

Advertising and Normalization

The marketing and services sector plays a significant role in promoting the gambling sector in Australia. Advertising and sponsorship of gambling also contribute to the normalization and acceptance as a mainstream recreational activity. There have been calls for stronger regulation to limit gambling advertising.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, gambling ads or promotions on odds are not allowed during live sports broadcasts from 05h00 to 20h30. These regulations in place may prohibit or restrict certain types of content in gambling advertisements, such as portraying gambling as a guaranteed path to financial success or targeting vulnerable populations. Additionally, certain territories in Australia have imposed limits on the frequency and intensity of gambling ads, particularly those at risk of problem gambling.

What are the Most Popular Gambling Games in Australia?

Besides Australia’s love for pokies, there are several other forms of gambling that they have a strong affinity for:

  • Lotteries and scratchies: Lotteries and scratch cards are the most popular forms of gambling in the country. Nearly 50% of adults buy scratchies and lotteries each year. Lotteries and scratch cards are favored by Australian gamblers due to their easy access, perceived harmlessness, and the excitement of potentially big payouts.
  • Sports Betting: Sports betting is widely popular, with over 43% of the population participating in it every year. A significant number of Aussies find enjoyment and thrill in sports betting. The most popular sports for bettors are Australian Rules Football, National Rugby League, cricket, tennis, basketball, and soccer.
  • Table card games: The most commonly played table card games, both online and in land-based casinos, are blackjack and roulette. These card games are favored due to the simplicity of the rules, and various betting options available. Additionally, Australians enjoy playing Baccarat since it is easy to learn and offers fast-paced gameplay.

Final Thoughts

Gambling in Australia is widely accepted and considered a normal recreational activity and generates substantial revenue for the country. The cultural diversity of Australia means gambling is viewed and experienced differently. However, the government has taken measures to ensure that gambling is enjoyed responsibly, operators are compliant and introduced regulations to minimize gambling harm.